Thoughts from a privileged white woman

I grew up one of 6 kids, the daughter of a stay at home mother and my father who worked as a heavy duty mechanic. I realized somewhere in middle grade that we were not as well off as some of my friends were. That knowledge served to shape me at a young age, and so the term ‘privileged’ seemed to speak to someone else. Not me. 

When I was young I can remember reading an essay reprinted in some women’s magazine my mother had. The title was, ‘What it’s like to be Black’ That got my attention. I read it eagerly, curious about what the writer might have to tell me.. I’d never even met a Black person at that point in my life. I can’t recall much of what she wrote about, but I do remember her parting comment. 

At the end of her essay she wrote, ‘I look forward to a day when no well meaning white teacher will ask a person of color what it’s like to be Black. Then she asked this question that brought be up by my young proverbial bootstraps, She asked, ’What would you think if I asked you to write an essay on what it means to be White?’
For a small moment back then I think I almost got it.

Fast forward almost 5 decades and God help us, we are still standing in the same spot. White privileged, well meaning people are still struggling to understand. 
Who has a satisfactory answer on why racism exists? Nothing reasonable. I can’t begin to imagine what it might be like to be singled out for no act on my part except that my skin is a different color.  
When I first heard the phrase ‘Black lives matter.’ I was almost irritated, thinking how ridiculous is that..Well, of course. And also, ALL lives matter.  

I’m ashamed to say that I have ignored news stories like the young girl who was shot by a store owner because she ‘thought’ she was stealing orange juice. I turn away because, how can that be true? I think the story is embellished, made up in some way. Details changed by the media for incendiary effect. 
How is it possible to shoot another human in that way and not spend years behind bars? How is it possible for such inhumanity for NO valid reason. I have imagined that something there must be made up. 

I was wrong.

I feel there is nothing a white woman of privilege might offer a community that has suffered in these ways for too long. Anything that means Anything. All I have is that I believe you. I am trying to understand. I want to understand. 

Black lives matter.

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